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Queen of Arabia: Janabe Khadijatul Tahera binte Khuwailid (s.a.)


Ayesha narrates that the Kuniyyat of Janabe Khadija (s.a.) was Umme Hind (Tabaqate Ibne Saad Waqedi vol. 8 pg. 8 ) She is from the Quraish and her ancestry (the third one) goes back to the pure ancestry, which continues to give shelter to the Islamic nation even today and for whom the holy Quran declares:

‘…a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven.’

(Sura-e-Ibrahim : 24)

Her father Khuwailid b. Asad b. Abdil Uzza b. Qasiyy. Qasiyy was also the ancestor of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.). Janabe Khadija’s (s.a.) and the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) ancestry unites in Qasiyy. Her mother was Fatima binte Zaidah. Her maternal and paternal grandparents are the same. The lineage of her grandmother and her great grandmother joins to the ancestral lineage of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) (Ibne Hesham and other historians). She was also well-known by the title of ‘Tahera’ (the pure one) as she was from a noble and honorable family which was distinguished by its members and their virtuous traits.

With her father’s demise all the responsibilities fell on her tender shoulders. Despite being a woman she remained undeterred with this tragedy and struggled intensely to handle all responsibilities. Allah had bestowed her with pure lineage along with beauty and wealth. Possessing even one of these characteristics is sufficient for a woman to earn respect and admiration. Janabe Khadija (s.a.) possessed all the three characteristics and this made her the most sought-after woman in the region. Handsome youths of Arabia, renowned warriors and chiefs of the tribes were eager to marry her. But the creator had already chosen another man for her. Janabe Khadija (s.a.) had a large trading business, which had expanded from Syria to Iraq. Her business was established in Arab and non-Arab countries. After her father’s demise she had to choose between continuing the trading business and closing it down. She decided to continue the business.

She could continue the business because she possessed innate patience and self-control to face the difficulties and problems of business, which was predominantly a man’s domain. She kept this trade working in the benefit of those workers who earn their livelihood through it. The death of her father had robbed her of happiness and created a feeling of desolation in her.

Once Janabe Khadija (s.a.) was observing her friend worshipping the idols in a monastery. A Jew happened to pass by from there while reciting some couplets from the Torah – The news of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) advent, the last fruit of Ibrahim’s tree (of lineage), so soon before the night followed the day. When the sun rises it will leave no scope for the moonlight, he will come and he will definitely come, O Maidens of Quraish!

This was a small message uttered by the tongue but it pierced the heart. Only Allah knows from where that Jew came and where he went. His recitation of the awaited prophet reverberated in the heart of Janabe Khadija (s.a.). The woman worshipping the idols gave another opinion about the Jew’s prediction but the message had already left a profound impact on her. She became restless for that sun to rise. She was waiting for that hour and on the other hand Janabe Abu Talib (a.s.) was waiting for his nephew to declare prophethood. The Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) childhood had passed in the loving care of his aunt and uncle (Abu Talib (a.s.) and Fatima binte Asad (a.s.)).

The Islamic nation helped the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) a little and offered him a little wealth but Abu Talib (a.s.) gave to the nation a Prophet like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Hazrat Abdullah (a.s.) was not the father of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), but deserves to be respected and honoured as if he was his (s.a.w.s.) father. Hazrat Abdullah (a.s.) he departed from the world before the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) birth. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was deprived of his loving care and nurturing. It was Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) who fulfilled these responsibilities as a foster father. Despite knowing all this, some of the Muslims label Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) as a Kafir. They disregard all his obligation and services in the way of Islam and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). But we are Muslims and we recognise his position and realise that no disbeliever or polytheist can render an obligation in these matters. Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) with the help of the flow of Nile reached Firaun’s palace. At that moment Janabe Aasiya (s.a.) was alongside Firaun in the palace. When the basket containing Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) drifted to the banks of the Nile, it was of Janabe Aasiya the concealed believer, who welcomed the basket. She was the one who took Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) out of the basket and she was the one who nurtured him as her own son. But as God wished, neither the nation of Firaun nor Firaun himself could refer to Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) as his son. But the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) who was an orphan, had Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) as his guardian, and even the nation refers to him so.

If in the place of Janabe Aasiya (s.a.), Firaun who was the king of the time and the owner of the house where Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) was raised, then history would have accepted him as Hazrat Moosa’s (a.s.) guardian. But Allah does not like the obligation of a polytheist on His servant. The purity of Prophet Moosa (a.s.) demands that it be kept far away from the uncleanness of the polytheist’s guardianship. That is why Janabe Aasiya (s.a.) was chosen for his nurturing.

It is quite astonishing that this kind of arrangement for Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) is considered to be appropriate and for the last Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the purified one, it is unimaginable that he be nurtured by a polytheist and that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) be associated with a polytheist. Abu Talib (a.s.) was not only a believer but the greatest well-wisher of Islam. He would always command Hazrat Jafar-e-Tayyar (a.s.) and others to accompany the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and join him in prayers and other Islamic acts like Jehad. Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) devoted his entire life in helping the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in his prophetic mission.

Keeping the circumstances in view Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) advised the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to accompany the trade caravan of Janabe Khadija (s.a.). Janabe Khadija (s.a.) learnt about this and called the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) if he would accept the charge of her trade caravan. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) consented to it and Janabe Khadija (s.a.) accepted it.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was well known for his honesty, truthfulness and excellent ethics. Therefore it is not surprising Janabe Khadija (s.a.) selected the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) for her trade. The most important trait, which is of great concern to a trader when handing over charge of his/her trade caravan is honesty. She admired this quality and promised to give double wages to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) for handling her trade. Under the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) trading caravan, Janabe Khadija (s.a.) earned double profit. And as quoted by Maysarah, the slave of Janabe Khadija (s.a.), – this trade earned her so much profit than she had never earned so much in 40 years.

Janabe Khadija (s.a.) was at her window when she saw her caravan returning. She noticed that the entire caravan was traveling under the hot sun but the leader of the caravan was sheltered by the cloud. When the caravan reached her house she first looked at the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and then looked above to see the divine shelter in the form of a cloud. Janabe Khadija (s.a.) wanted to be convinced that the cloud is truly Allah’s blessing and not a coincidence. So she first asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the whereabouts of Misar. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told her that he was with them in the caravan, she requested him to call Misar. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) turned to find Misar, the cloud cover also turned along with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and when the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) returned with Misar, the cloud cover was still accompanying him (s.a.w.s.). Janabe Khadija (s.a.) was now sure of the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) prophethood as she realized that the winds could not change the direction of the cloud so easily. Then Misar started narrated the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) excellent qualities and the meeting with Rahib in their journey and Rahib commanding them to obey the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Misar narrated that the angels were definitely sheltering him (s.a.w.s.). As evidence Misar narrated some miraculous related to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) viz. the food quantity never decreasing from the blessed hand of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and such other events.

Janabe Khadija (s.a.w.s.) was very astonished on hearing about these incidents. She narrated all this to her cousin brother, Warka b. Nawfal, who was considered to be a very learned person by the Meccans. Warqa said, ‘if all this is true, then definitely Mohammed (s.a.w.s.) will be the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) of the nation.’ In order to testify the truthfulness of Misar’s narration, Janabe Khadija (s.a.) invited the Holy Prophet for a meal with some other people and she witnessed the miracle herself (i.e. what Misar had narrated to her).

Seeing the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) excellent ethics Janabe Khadija (s.a.) felt a desire in her heart to marry him (s.a.w.s.). She sent a marriage proposal through her special maidservant Nafisa. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) accepted the marriage proposal after consulting his guardian – Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.). Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) before solemnising the marriage ceremony gave an excellent sermon, which Allamah Zamakshari has narrated in detail in his book Rabiul Abrar and Tafsir-e-Kashshaf. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) proclaimed prophethood, she was the first to accept it. Her wealth offered a financial refuge to Islam at a time when Islam had no wealth. Besides sharing her wealth, she also shared with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) his grief and sorrow. Her high ethical level laid the foundation for the admirable ethical traits of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), since she was the grandmother of all Imams (a.s.).

The first to help the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) with their money were his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) and Janabe Khadija (s.a.). Both these individuals did not care for their own financial well-being and bestowed everything in the way of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Islam.

When Janabe Khadija (s.a.) got married to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Quraishi women severed all relations with her on the pretext that she had married a pauper. She was spending most of her time in the house in solitude, but yet she did not complain nor expressed any anguish at this. This continued till she conceived Janabe Fatima (s.a.), after which her difficulties increased even more.

One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) heard her talking to herself. On being asked who she was talking to, she replied that she was talking to the infant in her womb. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told her that Jibraeel (a.s.) had informed him (s.a.w.s.),

‘The child in the womb is a girl who is pure, immaculate and blessed. Very soon my progeny will continue through her, and through her progeny will be the Imams (a.s.), whom Allah will appoint as Caliphs on the earth after the ceasing of the revelation.’

(Amali-e-Sadooq (r.a.))

Holy Quran and praise for Janabe Khadija (s.a.)

The Holy Quran has mentioned twelve women, one of which is Janabe Khadija (s.a.). She has been mentioned as the one having commendable ethical traits. The Quran says to the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

‘And find you in want and make you to be free from want (through Khadija’s wealth)’

(Sura-e-Zoha : 8).

In Sura-e-Kausar Allah has referred to the children from Janabe Fatima (s.a.), therefore also including Janabe Khadija (s.a.) since she was the mother of Janabe Zahra (s.a.) and the grandmother of all Imams (a.s.).
Traditions in praise of Janabe Khadija (s.a.)

Janabe Ayesha narrates that the first to woman to accept Islam was Janabe Khadija (s.a.)
(Tabaqaate Ibne Saad pg. 9).

It is narrated by Zohri that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Janabe Khadija (s.a.) prayed Namaz secretly till Allah wished.
(Tabaqaate Ibne Saad pg. 10)

The interval between Janabe Khadija (s.a.) and Ameerul Mo’mineen (a.s.) accepting Islam is very less and they both were the foremost to testify in the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). In praise of Janabe Khadija (s.a.) Imam Jafar Sadiq (s.a.) narrates that Allah has chosen four women above all other women of the world – Janabe Maryam (s.a.), Janabe Asiya (Firaun’s wife), Janabe Khadija (s.a.) and Janabe Fatima (s.a.)
(Nasikh, vol. 4, pg. 176)

Ibne Hesham narrates from authentic sources that one day Jibraeel (a.s.) came in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and told the Prophet to convey Allah’s salutations to Janabe Khadija (s.a.). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) conveyed this to her. Upon this Janabe Khadija replied, ‘Allah is Peace (Salaam) and Peace is from Him. And my salutation is for Jibrael also.’ (Sirat-e-Ibne Hesham pg. 106) This tradition has also been narrated in Sahih-e-Bukhari with slight discrepancies.

Janabe Ayesha narrates that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would always mention about Janabe Khadija (s.a.). He (s.a.w.s.) would never get tired of praising her and would often seek forgiveness for her.

She continues, ‘One day I became jealous of this fact and remarked that now God has given you a young woman in place of an old woman. I noticed that he became very furious. I got scared and said to myself that if Allah cools the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) temper, I will never ever say anything bad regarding Janabe Khadija (s.a.). (At this moment), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). asked – what was your intention in saying this. I swear by Allah, Khadija had reposed her faith in me when all were professing infidelity. She stood by me when everybody forsake me. She testified in me when others denied in me. Allah gave me a child through her, whereas you are deprived of this.’

The Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) love for Janabe Khadija

Janabe Ayesha says, ‘I was very jealous of Janabe Khadija (s.a.), more than I was for any of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) other wives. I cannot imagine would have been my state if I was staying with her. My jealousy stemmed from the fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) often remembered her. When he would slaughter a goat, he would send it to all her friends.’
(Asadul Ghaabah, vol. 5, pg. 438)

Opinion of Islamic scholars

Janabe Khadija (s.a.) was the true helper of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) (Sirat-e-Ibne Hesham pg. 16). Ibne Hesham records that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had fixed 20 camels as mehar (dowry) and she was the first wife of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). As long as she was alive, he (s.a.w.s.) never married another woman.
(Ibne Hesham)

‘Janabe Khadija (s.a.) testified to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) prophethood and in all what the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) received from Allah as revelation. She was a helper in his prophetic mission. She was the first to accept the faith and testify in his prophethood. Through Janabe Khadija’s (s.a.) companionship, Allah lessened the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) grief.

But Allah through Janabe Khadija (s.a.) gave joy and tranquility to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). He (s.a.w.s.) was never pained or distressed with her talks. Rather when he (s.a.w.s.) would come to her (s.a.) she would encourage him (s.a.w.s.) for his mission and testify to all that he (s.a.w.s.) said and would tell him (s.a.w.s.) to ignore the taunts of the infidels. May Allah have mercy on her.
(Ibne Hesham pg. 105, Isteaab pg 12)

Ibne Ishaq says that with the demise of Janabe Khadija (s.a.) and Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) life became miserable and grief-stricken. (Asadul Ghabah vol. 5 pg. 439)